The sea turtle nesting in South Walton has officially begun. During the early morning hours of May 21, a loggerhead turtle successfully laid a nest along the beach at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park.
The nest is a good sized one with 153 eggs laid. The nest was moved closer to the dune line for better protection against the elements.
“It was in a high traffic area,” said Jeff Talbert, park service specialist at the park.
There were three false crawls so far this year in other areas along the beach in South Walton, according to Sharon Maxwell of South Walton Turtle Watch. A false crawl is when a turtle comes on shore to lay a nest and returns back to the Gulf without laying eggs.
The South Walton Turtle Watch, a non-profit volunteer group monitors nesting in South Walton along our beaches. The State Parks monitor nesting along the beaches within State Park boundaries.
In 2013 there were more than 120 nests laid along the 26 mile stretch of South Walton’s beaches.
Sea turtles are protected by the Endangered Species Act, and only those with special permits are allowed to touch the nests, turtles, or hatchlings. There is a $2,500.00 reward for information leading to the conviction of violators. To report a violation, contact a State, Federal, or local law enforcement officer.
It is illegal to harm, harass or kill any sea turtles, their eggs, or hatchlings. If you find hatchlings wandering in a road, parking lot, or in a direction other than toward the water, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at (888) 404-FWCC or *FWC from your mobile phone.
How can you help nesting sea turtles?
If you see a sea turtle, it is important to stay out of the sea turtle’s way. Do not put your hands on or near the turtle. Any distractions may frighten or disorient the turtle, causing a female to return to the Gulf before finishing her nest.
If you own beach-front property, please remove obstacles on the beach which may impede the slow travel of these huge animals as they make their way up to the dune line to nest. Remove beach chairs, tables, water-sport items and any other obstacles. After nesting, be considerate of the hatchlings and make sure that they have a path to the water when it is time for them to hatch.
Walton County has adopted rules and regulations on keeping our beaches safe for both turtles and humans. Click here to learn more.
For more information about our local sea turtles visit: www.seaturtlewatch.com